Example of Winona’s powder coated heavy castings.
Photo Credit: Products Finishing
Founded in 1974, Winona Powder Coating (Etna Green, Ind.) got its start as a small fabricator. In 1979, the company began shifting its focus to powder coating and today is a leading supplier of powder coating services to large industrial companies throughout the Midwest. Winona Powder Coating was purchased by CEO Jamie Visker in 2002 and expanded. Today, the company has a 50,000-square-foot facility in Elkhart, Ind. and a 167,000-square-foot facility in Etna Green, Ind. The company has been continually working to expand its operations ever since.
Winona has qualified as a Top Shop in Products Finishing’s Top Shops Benchmarking Survey for three consecutive years and taking a quick look around the Etna Green location, it’s easy to see why. Currently, the company has four production lines for powder coating — two at each facility. The part window can handle parts 34" x 72". Each line has a five-stage washer using iron oxide pretreatment and automatic powder booths. The Etna Green facility also features an ecoat line that was installed in 2020. The line can handle parts 48" x 48" x 102", uses the latest generation of Axalta’s ecoat technology, and boasts a 17-stage pretreatment.
The addition of an electrocoating line in 2020 is just one example of how Winona constantly explores opportunities for expanding its capabilities.
Photo Credit: Products Finishing
The ecoat line is just one example of how Winona is working to grow the company. Originally installed to help meet the demand for ecoating of parts for John Deere, the line has also helped the company grow its work in the automotive sector.
“When you look at the morphology of this company, five, six years ago, it was just a job shop,” vice president of operations, Larry Beals, says. “We’ve since really elevated the bar as far as the expectations and the market that we’re starting to serve.”
Winona holds numerous certifications including several for coating John Deere parts.
Photo Credit: Winona Powder Coating
Each plant is ISO 9001 certified and undergoes recertification on a regular basis. The company processes parts for such OEMs as Case New Holland and Parker Hannifin, and has numerous John Deere certifications, including the JDM F17 global paint spec approval.
In addition, Winona is certified by the American Architectural Manufacturers Association for AAMA2603, AMMA2604 and AAMA2605. The company has done a lot of work to optimize how it processes parts to consistently meet those standards.
“We knew a long time ago that we wanted to get in the architectural business,” Beals says. “We run all of our castings on our heavier line and that allows us to keep all the aluminum and the galvanized separated and optimize the chemistry.”
According to Beals, the company is also Underwriter Laboratories (UL) approved, making their coatings a good fit for electrical work junction boxes and piping needed in architectural applications.
Another hallmark of any Top Shop is a good team dynamic. In addition to continual improvements to its process and investments in new capabilities, Winona also works to invest in its people. Several years ago, Beals implemented what he calls a Supervisor’s Academy — a two-year mentoring program for employees who exhibit leadership qualities or express an interest in growing their skillset.
“We cover various topics to give employees some additional skills for successful leadership,” Beals says. “We get into human resources, performance management, time management, conflict resolution, OSHA laws, hazardous materials, powder safety, the ISO standard (emphasizing the intent of it instead of treating it simply as an audit to get through once a year).
Beals says the program also covers problem-solving and project management, delving into Six Sigma methodology and Lean Manufacturing principles.
Winona continually explores new markets and application opportunities. Most recently, the company’s growth efforts have yielded business in the marine industry.
“Two years ago, we were doing zero business within the marine industry. We applied a Six Sigma approach to collaborating on an R&D project and now one of our largest accounts is in marine,” Beals says.
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